Do detox diets and cleanses really work?

It will increase your energy levels! It will help you lose weight! It will improve circulation! It will reduce inflammation! It will remove toxins! It will strengthen your liver or colon! It will cure autoimmune diseases… allergies… chronic fatigue!


These are just some of the claims from detox diets and cleanse advertisers and, while they may sound great, there’s little evidence to support them beyond people reporting that they feel better afterwards. The reality is your gastrointestinal tract is loaded with bacteria — a.k.a. intestinal flora — most of which is good to have. There’s little evidence that “detoxing” and “cleansing” actually cleanse toxins like pollutants or heavy metals — often claimed to stimulate your liver to get rid of them. Not to mention, there’s no consensus on how this process is supposed to work. The reality is your body, and in particular your liver, has evolved to be quite efficient at removing toxic substances or rendering them harmless. And those that can accumulate in tissues take a long time — months or years — to flush from your system.


While they may not do very much good, there’s limited evidence they do any harm, although there are reports of side effects like dehydration, cramping and diarrhea. Most treatments also come with a hefty price tag, of course, and many cost more than $250.


Most detoxes and cleanses involve activities like fasting for one or several days, drinking fruit or vegetable juices, water, or tea, taking herbs or supplements, doing colon cleanses or enemas, and eliminating alcohol, coffee, smoking or sugar.


Those last four items might be the key to why detoxes and cleanses work, if they work at all. Reducing alcohol, smoking, sugar, and other unhealthy foods in particular have been shown to improve health, reduce weight and body fat and insulin issues.


So, before spending hundreds of dollars on cleansing your body, you may want to simply try to clean up your diet and lifestyle. In particular:


·       Eat more whole and nutritious foods and avoid processed foods

·       Drink water regularly and try green tea

·       Exercise regularly and stay active

·       Reduce stress, try practicing mindfulness or meditation and get a good night’s sleep.


Have you tried a detox or cleanse? Do you think it helped? Please share experiences with the Shop Talk blog community!


Did you know: Rebound


Very low-calorie detox and cleanse diets can spike stress hormones, which may lead to increased hunger and rebound weight gain. (Source)